Yes, I got my tickets last night — thank you. Will be our third time in Cambridge.
We are NOT going to ‘Revels North‘ in Dartmouth (Lebanon/Hanover) this year!
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OK, I will confess to a slight sense of trepidation. Revels (North) “Early Appalachian Christmas” in 2013 proved to be somewhat subdued. OK, Revels (Cambridge) — the maestros — are not doing ‘Appalachian’ per se and they have, sensibly, grafted on Cajun which will, of course, be lively and uplifting. I am sure they will pull it off. In 2016 the plan is to JUST go to Revels Cambridge — rather than to BOTH Cambridge and Dartmouth, and pay the ‘big bucks’ for REAL good seats though the seats we had last Christmas were not bad at all. Actually they were quite good.
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by Anura Guruge
>> Christmas Revels North, 2015: Songbook & Program.
>> Christmas Revels North, 2015: Scottish Highland Bash.
>> Christmas Revels 2014: RAVE.
>> Christmas Revels 2013 at Dartmouth.
>> Christmas Revels 2012 at Dartmouth.
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♥ The Scottish dancing was top class, throughout. Bravo.
♥ The harpist, Dominique Dodge, was DIVINE.
[I, though a sucker for harp music have no plans, whatsoever, of going to heaven. Which is why I try and listen to as much good harp music on earth while I can. But I imagine that is there is a heaven and they do have harpist there, as is claimed, these harpists will sound like Dominique Dodge did last night. THANK YOU, Dominique.]
♥ ‘Tàladh Chrìosta’ performed in the second-half by Dominique Dodge, who also sang as a soloist, with the ‘Teens of Dingwall’ was goose-bump inducingly magical. WOW. Thank you.
♥ The ‘Auld Lang Syne‘, with the crossed-arms and synchronized swaying, was the BEST rendition I have seen in the U.S. in the last 30 years and it made me very happy (bar for a small but crucial flaw that was an unnecessary distraction). But, Thank you. That was very good.
[Those that are familiar with this blog that I start running ‘Auld Lang Syne‘ tutorials in December to get U.S. folks to do it properly with the crossed-arms. And IF you are wondering why, as I have talked about many times, I was a bona fide, invited ‘First Footer‘ at Hogmanay, in Greenock (Scotland), for a number of years and did my duty, gladly, in kissing hundreds of Scottish lasses, right after the ‘Auld’ to make sure their New Year would be blessed.]
♥ ‘The Ballad of Tam Lin‘ was exquisitely done and I will confess that last night was the first time I fully appreciated all the nuances. Kudos.
♥ The huge wolf and eagle created for the final scene of ‘The Ballad of Tam Lin‘ was very impressive. Way to go.
♥ The two young ladies that lead the ‘Lord of the Dance‘, in Morris Dance outfits, go from strength to strength each year. Bravo.
At the end of the show we were told that this was the last show of Maureen Burford, the Artistic Director.
She was leaving after 12 years with Revels North. That is a shame. We like her work and her style.
I now realized that bar the very first Revels, that I was at Dartmouth prior to 2001, all the other Revels that we have seen at Dartmouth, since 2003, have been Maureen Burford creations. Wow. We wish you all the best Maureen.
I got a chance to briefly speak with Maureen at the intermission BUT I had no idea that it was her last show.
And end of another era.
Of course it was good. They are all good, by definition. The Revels North ‘gang’ is so dedicated, talented and charismatic. We are always in awe and admiration of what they manage to pull off, each Christmas.
Glad we went. To me Christmas would not be complete with Christmas Revels, by Revels North, at Dartmouth.
Welcome Yule. Merry Yule.
Those that know me well might have detected by now that I am not as effusive in my praise for this performance as I normally tend to be. Yes, that is indeed true. There were three and half things that marred this show for me. I think, though I am not sure, that I would have been able to overlook (maybe not gladly) and one of these 3.5 faux pas, but the totality of all 3.5 was too much. So what were these 3.5 reasons that put a damper on this performance.
1. NO Programs!
They did NOT have any programs, at all, for this show. I was told, 4 times, that all the shows had been sold out, that they sold 1,000 tickets than ever before, and as such they ran out of programs for the last show.
I do NOT buy that. This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. This is the era of the “Internet of Everything”. All the tickets were sold electronically. They should have been on top of ticket sales on a second-by-second basis. They should have started printing more programs as they saw the tickets being sold. This was a VERY POOR SHOW.
I feel really bad for those attending Revels for the first time. Without a program they were truly robbed. Mugged.
I was not amused either. I like to read the program ahead of the show and get a road-map in my head. Then during the show I do follow each act on the program. This was not cricket. This was a VERY POOR SHOW. I was livid.
This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. The world class Spaulding Auditorium, in which the show was held, as the projection equipment for “Supertitling” — i.e., displaying the ‘program’ behind the stage in large font. We saw this to great effect in 2013 when the Dartmouth Handel Society did “St. Matthew Passion“. Yes, it would have been a lot of work but they could have at least Supertitled.
Plus this is Hanover, NH in 2015. Within a 1/4 mile radius of the Hop there had to be dozens of high-quality, commercial grade laser printers. They could have just printed the 10 pages of the Program per se and handed that out with an apology.
I found the lack of a program an AFFRONT. Revels North management saying “Let them eat cake”. That at the start of the show a cast member appeared on stage and tried to make light of this and then had the temerity to say that “we could go read it online when we got home” was INSULTING. I don’t want to read the program after the fact.
IF Revels North had any class they would send each and every person that attended last night’s performance a $15 refund along with a profound apology. And I blame the Revels North Board. IF they have any sense of shame they would, before Christmas, resign in bloc. This was very incompetent. This was unacceptable. Yes, I am annoyed. Yes, I was given a program at the end, BUT that was no consolation.
2. The Master of Ceremonies wore cheap black sneakers with HUGE rubber soles with his kilt!
That was very insulting too! There is a proper way to wear a kilt. A kilt is a NATIONAL DRESS. You do NOT take liberties with a National Dress. You do not disrespect THE KILT.
That he kept on appearing at the very edge of the stage in these frigging sneakers was beyond the bloody pale. Yes, after the show I made a point of taking a photo so that you can all appreciate my sense of outrage.
OK. Maybe he had bad feet. But there is NOTHING better for bad feet than a good pair of leather brogues. There were others on stage well attired in their kilts and footwear. I am amazed that nobody told this guy that sneakers are not worn with a kilt.
I blame the MANAGEMENT for this. They should have not let this happen.
First the programs and then this. What was this. Affront the audience week?
3. One piper, who used Smallpipes most of the time.
This was, and IF you had a program you would see that, billed as a ‘Scottish Highland Celebration’. So how come we only got 2 minutes 20 seconds of Great Highland Bagpipes? The rest of the time it was bellows-powered, small pipes with the drone ‘muted’.
One piper. We had one piper, with proper Highland pipes, at our wedding and we never billed that as a Highland Celebration.
I expected that we would start proceedings with some full-blooded piping. We in New England have no shortage of good pipers. One piper with small pipes. That the Highland Pipes would have been too overpowering for an indoor event. This was Revels. Celebration. I give you, with PRIDE, the “Red Hot Chilli Pipers” with three pipers in full blast, at the ‘Capitol Center for the Arts’, in Concord, NH, in 2014. Now that was a BLAST.
To make it worse the smallpipes were not properly amplified. The first time they played, halfway through, they started sounding ‘funky’. Like somebody turned on some other instrument. In the second half, the first time they were used, the cord may have been loose, but it ‘pop’, ‘crackled’ and ‘hissed’. People noticed it. I looked around. Now if you had DRONES that would have drowned out all that interference.
4. The cute kids at the front, for the ‘Auld’, didn’t cross arms!
Well at the start I did say that the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was done, by the adults to near perfection. But they had a dozen or so very cute kids right at the front who just held hands without them crossed. PLEASE, as a father of four, do NOT tell me that kids cannot cross their arms. The kids would have loved it. They just had to be told. You cross your arms. What gives.
After the show, as is our wont, we went across the road, to the pub, for dinner. And, of course, we talked about the show. We had taken a friend of Deanna’s. Her first Revels. NO PROGRAM. She is Scottish. She, without being asked, commented about the pipes!
Deanna noticed that there was no ‘Horn Dance’ and that is as Scottish as it can get.
Also seemed very short. When ‘Lord of the Dance’ came around we looked around at each other. Seemed it came rather fast. BUT without a program we had no idea where we were. The whole show, with the intermission, appeared to have been about 1 hour 40 minutes long. We were done well before 7pm (having started at 5pm). The Revels last week 2.5 hours long (with the 15 minute intermission).
On the way Deanna made this very telling comment: “Maybe next year we should just go to Cambridge.” Yikes! I hope not. Revels North is still OUR Revels.
Lets us see what they do to recompense for these faux pas.
by Anura Guruge
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Last week it was Christmas Revels, the ‘Welsh Celebration‘ by Cambridge Revels — and it was, as I had gushed, absolutely fantabulous.
This week it is OUR Revels — Christmas Revels, at the Dartmouth HOP, by Revels North and they are doing a ‘Scottish Bash‘. This really is Christmas for me. Welsh & Scottish Revels a week apart. To I, it does not get any better. Yes, of course, we have tickets. Front Row, Center — aisle (the aisle seat so I can more easily join the “Lord of the Dance” ‘conga line’. Same seats that we have now had for the last 5 years. I paid a $xx premium in August to make sure I got them this year — $xx because I won’t even tell Deanna what it cost. SMILE.
Of course it will, as is invariably the case, be brilliant, exquisite, uplifting and rewarding. Revels is THE HIGHLIGHT of my Christmas — and Revels North is OUR annual revels.
So, as they did last year, to get us all in the spirit, they have, very thoughtfully and kindly, published the relevant lyrics and a video songbook. And as is always the case with Midas-touch possessed by Revels North they are of very high quality.
Savor and ENJOY.
P.S., They have a section on ‘First Footing‘ and Hogmanay and for those that do NOT KNOW, THIS — this very blog — is now a preferred destination site for all things Hogmanay (as a quick search will testify); I being a seasoned (tall) DARK stranger First Footer in Glasgow for some years. Revels North, bless them, also, as shown in the Songbook do a spirited version of Auld Lang Syne. Again we serve as a font of information about the ‘Auld …‘ and how to do is properly, with your arms crossed.
Click either image to access YouTube video.
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Disney On Ice: Treasure Trove, Manchester, NH, Verizon Arena, January 30, 2013. We Went. It Was Fun. Some Pictures.
.by Anura Guruge
Click to ENLARGE.
All the pictures by Deanna with her new Panasonic ZS20 (without flash).
I will admit it. It exceeded my expectations, but I hadn’t set the bar very high. But, lets face it, I was far from the target audience. The kids were mesmerized, tantalized and given a magical carpet ride, both figuratively and literally. What more can you ask. Yes, it was good. It was fun. It was slick. It was Disney with a Feld twist (see the top, very cute, thank you e-mail from them). Feld’s are who do the ‘Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey‘ circus, in Manchester, that we go to each year, without fail. Given our familiarity with the circus, we could see the similarities. But, that is OK. The Feld’s try hard.
The show was choreographed to the minute. 40 minute first half, 1 hour second half. Started at 7, finished, on the nose at 9. Not counting the Disney key character cameos, they did 8 or 9 Disney shows: Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lion King, Snow White, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Tangled, Super Heroes etc. Alice, Peter Pan, Toy Story and Aladdin were long, featured segments. The others were shorter. The Lion King dramatization with costumes was brilliant, pure Geld circus. It was good. I particularly liked the lighted lanterns from Tangled. That was a nice touch. That was my favorite.
That we paid $15 seat, not counting the 57% markup by the despicable TicketMaster, made it even better. We had reasonable seats, but not together. Teischan had a ‘B’ row seat. So 2nd row OFF the ice. I think it was too close. But she loved it. Deanna sat directly behind her in ‘C’ and I sat in ‘D’. Devanee sat in ‘F’, and though she acted as if she was not amused, liked the show. She probably had the best seat, given the banking.
A Few Random Observations & Comments:
>> They started the show by TRYING to get the audience to get up and do some warm up exercises. They, with the help of the Super Heroes, were stressing the importance of exercise. That was good. I was impressed. That only 25% of the audience stood up, as urged, to swing a leg reminded me that this was NH. No, I didn’t bother to get up. But, I had slogged up Prospect Mountain for my 2.25 mile run before the show. But, here is what spoiled it all. The male Master of Ceremonies that they had, introducing this exercise segment, dressed in a tight black sweat shirt, looked like he was 13 months pregnant! Talk about setting a bad example. Reminded me, at once, about Destination Imagination NH and going to their meets. All these good people stand up and extol the kids of numerous uplifting virtues, but many of them look as if they are wearing fat suits to appear funny.
>> Every time I go to the Verizon I am struck by what a big problem we have in NH, especially in the Winter, with OBESITY. I was just looking at the men, acutely aware that I still need to lose 15 pounds — having already lost 5 pounds since last week. [Deanna admitted that she hates me!] What can I say. I asked my friend, ‘my brain‘, to help. So many of the men are grotesquely obese! This is not good.
>> They were advertising event parking at $10, $15 and $25! It was a 7pm show. I didn’t appreciate it, but the meters near the Verizon, during the week, are 8am to 8pm. But, they are only 75 cents an hour, two hour max. So even at 6pm you could get a ticket valid till 8pm for $1.50. After 8pm it is free! I guess people don’t know the parking situation around the arena. That is a pity.
>> The economy has to be good in NH. People were spending money on food, drinks, cotton candy and the toys like there was no tomorrow. That is good. Good for the economy. I was pleased. We didn’t buy anything in the arena (for a change). The kids are getting better. They now realize that the LED Mohawk headgear you buy for $20 at the Verizon is available in the mall for $2.
.by Anura Guruge
We have been getting promo e-mails for this for months. Given all the shows and concerts we attended in December, I was kind of ignoring them. Then this morning Deanna again got the $15 per seat opening night offer. So, I decided to go for it. For the last 2 years, rather than going to Disney on ice we had been going to the ‘Educational Theatre Collaborative‘ (ETC) production at Plymouth State University: ‘Peter Pan‘ (2011) and ‘The Wild Swans‘ (2012). This year’s show was about the history of Plymouth. Since we are not from Plymouth I knew the kids would not be impressed if I took them to it. So, Disney on Ice was the make-up.
I had to go through damn TicketMaster for the $15 tickets — given that we were not going to be going anywhere close to Manchester in the next few weeks. I hate TicketMaster, I really do. I could only find individual seats, but I managed to get 4 in a cluster, quite close to the ice. I was hell-bent on not paying more than $15 — since that was the offer. Plus we have had great luck with cheap seats at the Verizon, especially with the circus. When all was said and done, and I chose the $2 EXTRA ‘home printing option’, we ended up paying $23.50 per ticket — $8.50 markup per ticket by bloody TicketMaster. That is a 57% markup. I was not happy. But, since it was TicketMaster I always expect to be raped. Yes, I know they have been sued. Most times I just refuse to buy tickets through them. For the circus we always drive down to get the tickets.
…by Anura Guruge
We are off to see Dralion by Cirque du Soleil at the Verizon Arena Manchester. In the end we could not resist and the kids really wanted to see it.
He are hooked. Just a few weeks ago we saw Mystère in Las Vegas. To say it exceed expectations would be inadequate. The kids are veterans of Barnum & Baily and the Big Apple Circus. I have seem circuses all over the world. But, this was special.
I am not sure why but Mystère was my first Cirque du Soleil experience. It isn’t as if I don’t go to big shows and there was a time when I was in Vegas, albeit on business, at least 3 times a year. Yes, I do remember that in 1996 or 1997 I was given tickets for Mystère in Vegas but couldn’t make it because I had other things to do. So we are kind of trying to catch up. After a quick chat with the kids we decided we will still go to see Barnum & Baily, at the Verizon, per our annual tradition, in September — always the last show of the trip, on Sunday so we can stay to watch the elephants walk to the train.
The Verizon is small enough that you don’t need expensive seats. So you don’t have to spend a real lot of money — though Cirque shows are, alas, expensive. Tickets in Manchester are much cheaper than the cheapest seats in Vegas, even through vegas.com, which I will henceforth recommend. They do deliver.